It really doesn’t matter if you are a charity, SME or large corporate, the demands to continually do more with less are relentless.
Over time, any number of approaches have been applied in the name of efficiency, productivity and capacity to meet these demands. They range from process improvement through work measurement to organisational design and they all have their place. There is one approach though that doesn’t seem to get as much attention, despite it being a critical skill in other (mostly eastern) cultures and that is collaboration. It might be a result of a focus on competition, a management mindset driven by organisation specific objectives (and on which rewards are based), territorial responsibilities or perhaps the ways in which our leaders are educated. Given my background, I’m fascinated by the differences and similarities across Third Sector and Commercial organisations, but on the question of collaboration, the two world views are remarkably similar. If an organisation is looking to reduce costs, increase reach, compete better for funding, improve learning and skills or just benefit from scale (and all of these apply equally if you are a charity or SME for example), then you should seriously have a look at collaborating. I’ve highlighted two key resources that will help you investigate further (and obviously at ITR, we are here to help too) The excellent Charity Commission guidance on collaborative working https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/409625/Choosing_to_collaborate.pdf) and the recent ISO 44001 documentation on collaborative business relationships https://www.iso.org/obp/ui/#iso:std:iso:44001:ed-1:v1:en In short though, the key requirements are simple: Why Be really clear about what you are looking to achieve What. Be specific about what you are looking to collaborate on When Why is now the right time to work together with others How What form will the collaboration take - e.g. roles, processes Who How do you choose a great collaboration partner One area that you might like to consider as a taster of what collaboration can offer is in the generation of ideas and improvement possibilities. In terms of working practices there are often many similarities across organisations, there are often many similarities in expected outcomes and all organisations are a combination of people, tangible assets (like buildings or IT) and knowledge. You might have more in common than you think! So why not try exploring and exchanging ways to be better and see how that feels as a first step to a more collaborative approach that will make your organisation both sustainable and future ready. Of course, there are risks to collaborating as well. They might range from lack of communication leading to disputes, integrating different organisational cultures, personality clashes or just trying to go too fast. The good thing is with proper risk management discipline, these sorts of barriers can be identified and mitigated. At iandi, we see all organisations in a joined up way both within the enterprise itself as well as participating in the broader community. We're ready to help.